What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an increase in pressure inside the eye and is a potentially blinding condition in childhood. Glaucoma has many potential causes.
Our eyes are filled with a fluid-like substance called aqueous humor, which moves around the eye and drains through tiny passages.
In children, the most common cause of Glaucoma is congenital malformation of these passages during the formation of the eye in the mother’s womb.
Testing your child for Glaucoma
Detecting Glaucoma at an early stage can prevent vision loss. All newborns, soon after birth, undergo a baby wellness check, which includes examining the eye for the presence of red reflex and to test the clarity of the cornea.
What is the cornea and red reflex?
The cornea is like the windshield of a car – if the windshield is clear, we are able to see very well. When the eye pressure increases, the cornea becomes cloudy and the red reflex is not seen. Red reflex can also be dull or absent in the presence of cataract or clouding of the lens. Both of these conditions require urgent intervention.
My child’s eyes are big! Should I be worried?
In many cultures, big eyes are a sign of beauty but unfortunately it is also one of the signs of developing Glaucoma. Since the fluid is trapped inside the eye and cannot drain properly, the eye gradually increases in size, just like filling a balloon with air makes it bigger. This increase in the size of the eye can damage the optic nerve at the back of the eye and which is the main nerve involved in vision.
What are the signs of Congenital Glaucoma?
- Large eyes
- Cloudy corneas
- Unequal size of eyes
- Constant watery or teary eyes
- Sensitivity to bright lights (‘Photophobic’)
Can Glaucoma be treated?
Yes, Congenital Glaucoma can be treated either medically or surgically. The success of any treatment depends on how early the treatment starts.
Who treats Glaucoma?
A trained Consultant Ophthalmologist with experience in dealing with Congenital Glaucoma should lead the treatment. It’s a condition that requires lifelong monitoring and treatment.
A Paediatric Glaucoma service has been started at Al- Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital in Dubai, UAE.